USDA has approved a proposal by the Missouri Department of Conservation to improve wildlife habitat on more than 1,200 acres in existing wetland easements in the Lower Grand River watershed.
MDC's proposal was submitted through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is one of five WREP proposals selected nationwide. The others are in Iowa, Idaho and Georgia. Harris Sherman, agriculture under secretary for natural resources and environment, made the announcement March 17 during the 76th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Kansas City.
Through WREP, a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program, NRCS enters into multi-year agreements with state and local governments, non-government organizations and American-Indian tribes to leverage resources and provide financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners to restore wetlands and improve wildlife habitat. J.R. Flores, NRCS' state conservationist in Missouri, said the WREP funds will provide landowners with opportunities to enhance older WRP easements that had minimal restoration.
"We now use advanced wetland restoration techniques that maximize wetland wildlife habitat and place more natural looking wetlands in Missouri's landscape," Flores said.
NRCS used a competitive process to select proposals submitted by state and local governments, including MDC's proposal. It will utilize $141,000 in WREP funds in 2011 to help Missouri landowners with regular WRP easements in the Lower Grand River watershed to implement even more wildlife-friendly practices.
Flores said eligible farmers and ranchers in Carroll, Chariton, Linn, Livingston, Mercer and Sullivan counties may now apply for assistance through their local NRCS offices. Locations and contact information are available at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs.